Danny Gregory’s new book An Illustrated Life features pages from artist’s journals and sketchbooks, a secret glimpse into their thoughts and inspirations. He posted a preview gallery a few months ago and you can imagine my joy when I discovered three of our bloggers, Penelope, Rama and Melanie listed among the distinguished participants, as well as another dear and familiar name to me, Seamus Heffernan.
Seamus grew up in New England and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He recently graduated with a BFA in painting from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, after a year abroad with the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts in Greece. He is a freelance illustrator/ painter/ comics artist and is working on a graphic novel about the Revolutionary War. See excerpts from the novel and his journals at seaheff.com
Seamus and I both studied in Pistoia, Italy and Paros, Greece with the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts in 2005-2006. The first time I met Seamus, in the garden of the Villa Rospigliosi, I was tongue-tied and intimidated – I was an older student with no prior art study, feeling incredibly out of my depth amid this garden of rosy young talent. I asked him about his summer travels and he handed me his journal with ink-stained fingers.
Let me tell you, a few scans in a book or on a website can’t do Seamus’ work justice. The first time I opened his journal I knew I was experiencing something vital and rare – as close to a real glimpse inside someone’s thoughts as you’re ever going to get.
I had travelled to the Aegean Center with six cameras, determined to document every new place and sensation, trying to feel “artistically prepared”, if such a thing is possible (it isn’t). After the first week, when we went on to Venice, I started looking to Seamus to make sure these incredible moments were being truly captured. My cameras did not fail me, oh no, but after each new day I’d ask Seamus to show me his journal and only then was I satisfied that my own memories were in place.
He draws every day. He carries a very nice ink pen with him, as well as a tube of white gouache for highlights. Sometimes he sits so still when he’s drawing that you think he’s missing the action, only to discover later that while you were fretting, he was noting the details you’d missed.
Danny interviewed Seamus last week for his podcast – you can listen to it here and discover more about Seamus’ life and work.
I’ll be writing more about Danny’s new book in the coming weeks, and more about the Aegean Center and its unique and magical classical approach to art studies. Congratulations, Seamus - SUGCARHTHRIA!